Published: Dec 23, 2010 12:40 AM EST
Updated: Dec 22, 2010 8:28 PM EST

CAPE CORAL, Fla -  Bald eagle lovers are fighting a possible change in Cape Coral laws.

City leaders could pass an ordinance allowing developers to build closer to these protected species and their nests.

The discussion is ruffling a few feathers.

Ellen Peterson is from the Sierra Club Calusa Group.

Right now there is a five year study underway about the effects of changing eagle protection zoning.

The study is in year three.

Peterson says changing the zone could do long term damage.

"If those pine trees are gone, then the eagles are gone cause that's where they nest," she said.

The 17 eagle nests in Cape Coral are well protected.

The city has an ordinance that mandates no one can build within 1,100 feet of a bald eagle's nest.

But Cape Councilman Kevin McGrail wants to change that.

"The whole point is to get the city in line with state and federal guidelines," McGrail said.

McGrail wants to reduce the eagle zoning ordinance to 660 feet.

He says this will entice developers and the 660-feet is what's accepted by Florida Fish and Wildlife and the federal government.

McGrail believes changing the ordinance would still protect the eagles and their nests.

"Our eagles are an asset to our community. They make us unique," he said.

But members of the Sierra Club disagree.

"It continually gets reduced as we get more and more people who are concerned with tall buildings...rather than the habitat," Peterson said.

The Sierra Club Calusa Group put the city on notice.

If council passes the ordinance, the Sierra Club would help fund any lawsuit filed against the city.

"We would support any action," Peterson said.

Aware of the concerns, McGrail says he is reworking some of the language in the ordinance.

However, it will still maintain the 660 foot zone.

"We're not doing it to put up a high rise," he said.

This new ordinance will be discussed in more detail at the January 10th Cape Coral City Council meeting.